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Jeff Miller, who steered the council toward the center, won't seek re-election

Jeff Miller, who was largely responsible for steering the Hendersonville City Council to a more business-friendly position while also voting to preserve neighborhoods, won’t run for a third term on the council.

“It’s time,” he said Monday. “It’s been a testing year for sure. I’m really proud of what we’ve done on the council and I’m not ashamed of anything we’ve done. I think we’ve worked together real well together — the cancer center, this new Garrison (industrial park) are probably in your face things.”
Although lower profile, other issues were important to Miller. And when he saw things he thought needed to be fixed, he plunged in and persuaded his colleagues on the council to follow.
“Roads were a big deal when I came on,” he said. I think we’ve done an outstanding job on housing, the way we encouraged the workforce housing part of it.”
Long dominated by Democrats, the officially nonpartisan city council tacked center right on issues of taxes, development and regulations under a three-vote majority of Miller, Ron Stephens and Steve Caraker — all Republicans. A single decision — hiring John Connet as city manager to succeed Bo Ferguson — led to an administration that put customer service first and worked to find a way to say yes to development instead of no.
“I think we’ve had very good discussion and worked toward areas that maybe nobody was completely happy with but it would work,” he said. “Back in the day when we had Steve Caraker and Ron — we didn’t try to steamroll people with just the business side of things. I saw us working well together. The mayor — I have to give her credit. She’s very fair. She doesn’t talk a lot but when she does you ought to shut up and listen.”
“Working with John Connet and (assistant city manager) Brian Pahle was great — good leadership there,” he said. “We’re on solid ground. For me, in the next four months I’m going to really work hard on getting through this bottleneck with the county. That’s kind of the focus.”
He also wants to make sure the council moves ahead on plans for a new Fire Station 1, the downtown parking deck and an idea he first broached — a city park on the Dogwood parking lot.
“We quit kicking the can down the road” on a number of capital projects or festering challenges, especially employee pay and benefits.
“I’m really proud of us stepping up and taking care of our employees not just on pay but on benefits,” he said. “You’re only as good as the people that are out delivering service. I was proud of the council and mayor.”
“I think everybody’s done a good job as mayor and council overall trying to achieve some well-planned growth and business not being overburdened with regulation as well as taking care of the residents and neighborhoods. It’s always going to be important to protect established neighborhoods all over the place.”
In the coronavirus Zoom economy, people didn’t need dress shirts and blouses to attend business meetings, which whacked Miller’s more than 100-year-old dry cleaning business.
“We’ve got to make a lot of decision with the business,” he said. “We’ve got to really sit down and figure out what we’re going to do there but primarily spend more time with family.”
He mentions the possibility of getting a hobby, even through he has a major avocation as cofounder and leader for 16 years of the HonorAir program to fly veterans to Washington to tour war memorials. Flights resume in the fall, he said, and beyond that he hopes to squeeze in some time off at Hilton Head, S.C.
“If you take that job on City Council you spend a lot of time on it,” he said. “It’s not just go to a couple of meetings a month. I’d like to follow through and get that park built with hotels on either end.”
He declines to endorse anyone for a seat on the council. “I’m going to keep my mouth shut for the time being,” he said.
One message he would like to spread, though, is the importance of getting involved and voting in local elections.
“Council members and county commissioners have more direct impact on the people that live here and should vote here than the people in Raleigh or D.C. and everybody should care enough to go pick people that are making those decisions rather than just complain about it after the fact,” he said.